"To saunter means to walk leisurely, and comes from the French saint terre, meaning Holy Land. Its original meaning referred to the pilgrims — some of whom were saints, most of whom were sinners and con artists — who traveled to the Holy Land beginning in the fourth century when Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire and allowed Christians to travel openly. I want to keep the notion of pilgrimage in our idea of walking, but I want to shift the Holy Land to the very ground beneath your feet.
"I like walking in the city and the country; I like walking on paved sidewalks and worn forest trails. I like walking. But when walking in a city, it is more difficult to surrender to the walk. There are people to avoid hitting, and cars to avoid hitting you. So adjust yourself to your surroundings, and saunter . . . meander . . . wander, and for God's sake don't wear a pedometer. This isn't an aerobic race around your neighborhood, but a holy stroll into it.
"Find a comfortable pace for this saunter. Walk the way Goldilocks might walk: not too slow, not too fast, just right. Carry pen (or pencil) and paper with you on your walks. I prefer 3 x 5 cards to actual sheets of paper because they are sturdy enough to write on without having to find a flat surface to lay them on. As sauntering becomes more and more part of your writing practice you will discover the muse who accompanies you on these walks is more than happy to give up her secrets. But they come swiftly and pass away quickly. The last thing you want to do is latch on to them and mull them over and over in your mind in order not to forget them. This only keeps other insights from coming to you. So jot them down, let them go, and see what comes up next.
"There have been walks when I come home with pockets stuffed with cards bearing hastily scrawled notes from the muse. I admit, however, that most of these notes go nowhere. Not everything that comes to you on a walk is golden. A lot of it is just chalcopyrite: it's yellow, it's pretty, it looks like gold, but it isn't. Don't worry about it. Keep walking. The real nuggets will come."